The Current

'Mild' concussion could triple risk of suicide, study suggests

A new Canadian study suggests the effects of mild concussions are greater than first thought and include higher risks of suicide. We meet two women whose mild concussions have affected them for years and the doctor who is urging medical professionals to reconsider the risks.
So-called mild concussions may seem like minor accidents when they happen but new research shows a troubling correlation over time that includes a higher risk of suicide. (Francois Lenoir/Reuters)

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If you just happened to be one of the nearly 10 million Canadians who watched the Super Bowl on Sunday, the excitement of watching football's biggest spectacle may have been mixed with a sense of unease over the players' risk of concussion.

Football and brain injuries are increasingly linked in people's minds thanks to new studies; testimonials from former players, and a new Will Smith movie, Concussion. (Bill Wippert/ Associated Press)

New research reveals that even so-called mild concussions, the kind everyday adults might suffer, far from the football field may be a bigger deal than we've previously thought. The study shows that over the longterm, adults who suffer "mild" concussions, are three times more likely to die by taking their own lives compared to the general population.

Dr. Michael Fralick, a chief medical resident in internal medicine at the University of Toronto, worked on the study that looked at 235,000 patients in Ontario. The patients sustained a concussion over a 20-year period and were followed for 10 years to look into suicide attempt. Fralick says that although this is an Ontario-based study, he feels there is a good chance the results would reflect the rest of Canada.

Alana Hurov and Ann Zuccardy are both familiar with the reality of living after a traumatic brain injury. They joined The Current's host Anna Maria to share their experience. 

Hurov says her life changed after she suffered a concussion in 2009. She was off work for almost a year and eventually chose to leave her job. Six years later, Hurov says that she still feels the affects of the injury as she continues to deal with some minor hearing and visual issues.  

Zuccardy's life also changed after her concussion in 2011. She was unable to think and speak clearly and had to switch careers. Now Zuccardy is an advocate for people with traumatic brain injuries.

Let us know, how this conversation resonates with you. Tell us about your experiences with concussions.

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This segment was produced by The Current's Julian Uzielli and Ines Colabrese.